During Dementia Action Week 2018, I wanted to share with you all a story about the importance of friendship. I hope you enjoy it .
We all join MacIntyre for different reasons, and when I started working for the organisation over 10 years ago I wasn't truly sure what MacIntyre was really about, but I was intrigued. Also, caring and supporting people is something that I have always been so passionate about.
On, my first day at MacIntyre I was greeted with a huge hug from a lady who made me feel automatically part of her life. This lady was Rachel, and who would have thought that 12 years on Rachel and myself would still be colleagues, and more importantly friends.
Rachel and I worked side by side in the Great Holm Coffee Shop and bakery and I dipped in and out of her home providing support for Rachel when I was needed.
In 2016, my role changed and I went to work on the MacIntyre Dementia Project as part of the health team. I was so happy for this to happen, but at the same time sad to say good bye to working each day alongside all of the fabulous people that I had worked with in the Coffee Shop for so many years.
When it was my last day, Rachel asked "Nicky can I come work with you in your new job?" I sadly said "No Rachel, but I promise to stay in touch and we will still see each other lots". Rachel hugged me and that was that.
A few months after I found my feet in the new role and was really enjoying what I was doing, we were looking to involve the people we support in the project. Thinking of ways we could include people, I suggested to the rest of my team that I know a lady who I think will be great working with me on certain parts of the Dementia Project. At this point Rachel lived with her best friend Alison, who was living with dementia, and I knew Rachel had a small understanding of what was dementia is but would like to learn more. The day I asked Rachel if she would she like to work with me, I got an instant ‘yes!’ I said to her ‘You do not know what you will be doing yet’, laughing she replied “I don't mind" and the journey began.
Well two years on, Rachel and I are working closer than ever. We present together at conferences, run side-by-side Dementia Friends sessions and work together at Head Office two Tuesdays a month. Rachel is also now an employed member of staff in her role as Dementia Project Assistant, which she is really proud of and so she should be. Days are very busy and time flies by. Just the other day was one of these very busy days and I was setting up for one of our MacIntyre Memory Cafés in Milton Keynes, and in walked Rachel. The room filled up with instant warmth, I stopped what I was doing and Rachel and I spent time catching up on how we both were. Work then continued, laying out tables, getting the record player set up, putting resources on tables.
As we worked, in the background, the sound of music was playing on the record player. Rachel was on one side of the hall busily setting tables while I was in the other doing the same. All of a sudden, ‘Doe a Dear’ came on. We both looked at each other with a much shared love for the movie and that was it, worked stopped and we both hit the high notes and sang away feeling like part of the movie, me adding a few dance moves and been told to stop by Rachel as I looked so silly!
However busy days get at work, it's so important to stop and enjoy those moments of fun together. We have days that are full of structure. but we always find time to have a giggle or sing along.
That moment will stay with me forever. I have been so lucky to meet such a beautiful person who I get to spend such quality time with. Rachel teaches me things all the time and we are a great team. I’m so proud of Rachel and what she achieves every day.
Dementia Project Officer